There are few surprises today as the Independent Electoral Commission announced preliminary results from the run off five days late. With Ghani winning 56% of the initial votes and fraudulent votes still waiting to be discounted, Abdullah declared that the announcement was in effect “a coup” against the votes of the people (see Reuters article here). We’ll have more analysis later on, but here are a couple of quick reactions:
- The fact that Ghani is leading with 56% of the vote is significant. Regardless of how many votes eventually get cast out, it seems very unlikely that Abdullah will be able to make up that much ground.
- That being said, the math surrounding what ballets and stations get excluded now becomes crucial. Counts from the South and East where there was more insecurity on Election Day are the most likely to be scrutinized.
- Abdullah’s response to the results was predictable. Based on how things had been going, it was very unlikely that Abdullah was going to respond favorably to the announcement unless the results showed him leading by a significant margin.
- The fact that the IEC announced the results only 5 days late is rather remarkable, but still demonstrates some of the issues with the current system: there will now be at least two weeks for both candidates to make accusations and undermine the process before the final results are announced. Having only the final results announced would make much more sense in terms of ensuring stability in the country.
- That being said, it seems likely that Abdullah supporters will only increase their protests in the coming days, ensuring that some of the gridlock created by the process continues.
- More externally, this seems like an ideal opportunity for the Taliban to continue to increase their attacks across the country. While the ANSF have not been involved in the election process, the turmoil in Kabul does create an opportunity for some of these attacks to have even more of an impact than they would have otherwise.
- Anyone making plans around the inauguration of the new president, might want to hold off. It seems likely that this process is far from over and while Ghani may end up being the new president of Afghanistan, there is going to be several weeks of instability as Abdullah and his supporters voice their complainants and attempt to secure at least some future share of the power in Kabul.
More to come…